messy christbus



Every Christmas morning while we were growing up, the first things we’d get would be our stockings, usually full of See’s Candy, little Matchbox cars, candy canes… and an orange. The orange always confused me; it seemed like a deeply incongruous piece of Healthy in the middle of an otherwise wretched morass of chocolate and refined sugar. Most of the time, we chucked the orange behind our heads and tore into our presents: a new Colecovision cartridge, maybe the football game that vibrates, or a 1980 Portable Cassette Recorder. It wasn’t until one Christmas in 1993, when I was 25 or so, that I asked why we still had oranges in our stockings.

My mom explained that when she was a child, she used to get oranges in her stockings because when her mother was little, Great Grandma Pearl did the same. They were living during the mid-19th century in dusty, ruined, high-altitude flatlands of Eastern Colorado and Utah, and apparently an orange was so coveted, so precious, and so tasty, that it would be one of

0 thoughts on “messy christbus

  1. Bud

    I’ve always gotten an orange in my stocking, too. My mom’s from Florida, so go figure. I imagine it goes back a long, long way. Do you also get a dime in the bottom of your stocking?
    I love Christmas traditions!

  2. kent

    Laura Ingalls got an orange in her stocking, which I learned from “Little House in the Great Woods.” I don’t even remember ever being told why by Mom.
    Oranges went into stockings because back in the day, they were a fairly exotic thing for people outside the warm parts of the country to eat. Imagine what an orange would taste like if you didn’t have a carton of juice in the fridge and a bag on the counter growing mold at all times.

  3. Mom

    Kent (and Ian), I was sure I had told you kids the story a hundred times….about how the orange in the stocking was a really big deal to my mother, and my grandmother before her, out in the scrub oak and bleak hillsides of Redmesa, Colorado. It was, according to my mother, the only orange they ever saw from one year to the next, and enough oranges for those big families must have cost a bit to acquire.
    Also, since in gramma’s very early days (around 1909-16) they didn’t have transportation except by horse and wagon (or horse-drawn sleigh in winter) it must have been quite a process, going into Durango to buy Christmas treats. No Prius to hum great grandpa quietly and swiftly down the mountain to town.
    For the record, except for not having Kent, Melissa, Sean Patric and Lucas with us, this was an incredible Christmas. All of us got far too many presents, but the great thing was that we all got things we love, and will use, and which may even in some cases make us happier and/or more productive.
    Ian and Tessa again opened the doors of the farm house and gave us shelter, fun, love, and gracious good cheer.
    I wish everyone could have a family holiday like the one we had.

  4. Sean

    I hate oranges.
    I got a Ipod!
    I called Sean Patrick to talk to him about Christmas and the last thing he told me was to go screw myself. Neither of us could stop giggling. Man, seriously, we have the most awesome family.


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